Thursday, 31 March 2011
Time To Go To Bed/Losing You
Digby George Richards (1940-1983), singer and composer, was born on 12 September 1940 at Dunedoo, New South Wales, elder child of New South Wales-born parents Gordon Forrest Richards, policeman, and his wife Mona, née Dennis. Dig attended Narooma Central and Moruya High schools. After completing the Leaving certificate in 1957 he worked at Waltons-Sears Ltd in Sydney.
His family and American rock’n’roll music were major influences on Dig. His brother Doug learned melody lines on their father’s guitar and started writing songs. Dig abandoned his retail traineeship for music, after becoming the vocalist for the band ‘The R-Jays’, which sought a recording contract. Ken Taylor of Festival Records auditioned the band in 1959 and, largely on the strength of Doug’s song I Wanna Love You, signed them. They became the third local artists, following Johnny O’Keefe and Col Joye, to gain a contract with Festival Records. The song entered radio 2UE’s Top 40 on 25 July 1959, and spent seventeen weeks on the charts, reaching number eight. Between his first hit and May 1960, Dig recorded more songs with ‘The R-Jays’, three of which—I’m Through, (Real Gone) Annie Laurie and Comin’ Down with Love—entered the charts, but did not have the success of their first record.
A handsome man with a good stage personality, Dig Richards was a popular performer who supported American singers including Ricky Nelson and Crash Craddock. Television shows such as ‘Bandstand’, from 1958, and O’Keefe’s ‘Six O’Clock Rock’, from 1959, extended his audience and popularity beyond dances and live performances. From August 1959 ‘The R-Jays’ were the studio band for ‘Teen Time’ on Channel 7.
Richards’ career was threatened as a result of injuries he sustained in a car accident in October 1959. A couple of years later he and ‘The R-Jays’ parted amicably and he began to write his own material. While he kept his early fans, he wanted to broaden his appeal. He took voice and guitar lessons and developed a new image. A comeback single in 1962, Raincoat in the River, defined his change from rock’n’roller to a slightly folky, country singer. On 10 July 1964 at the Church of St John the Baptist, Milsons Point, he married with Anglican rites Susan (Suzanne) Margaret Clark, a telephonist. That year he hosted the ‘Ampol Stamp Quiz’, a television show for children. Often performing in clubs, he sought new markets in South-East Asia, touring there—including Vietnam—in the late 1960s.
In 1970 Dig went to England, returning as Digby, complete with beard and longer hair. He recorded Harlequin, an album of his songs, which had several hits including A Little Piece of Peace and People Call Me Country. Recording earlier with CBS Records, he switched to the Radio Corporation of America and RCA Records of Australia Pty Ltd. In 1973 he recorded in Los Angeles with top session-musicians, who were attracted not only by the quality of his songs but also by his Australian accent. This album, Digby Richards, also produced several hits.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April 1982, Richards died on 17 February 1983 at St Leonards, Sydney, and was cremated. His wife and their son and daughter survived him.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Please Don't Go/What The World Needs Now Is Love/Could It Be Love/The Look Of Love/I'll Catch The Sun/Everyday Of My Life/You And I/My Cherie Amour/Let It Be/Make It Easy On Yourself/The Shadow Of Your Smile/Sing A Rainbow
Barry Hugh Crocker OAM (born 4 November 1935, in Geelong, Victoria, Australia) is a popular Australian singer, with a crooning vocal style.
After doing National Service with the RAAF in 1955, Crocker toured the club circuit in Melbourne, formed a partnership with David Clarke then performed in the England and the United States. He returned to Australia to star in The Barry Crocker Show (1966–67) on Network Ten. He made his acting debut on a 1969 episode of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
In May 1973 he released the album "Music Makes My Day", featuring an updated version of Robin Luke's "Susie Darlin" on the Festival label. The recording featured Olivia Newton-John and Pat Carroll on backup vocals and enjoyed chart success, reaching Number 25 in Sydney, Number 7 in Melbourne, Number 3 in Brisbane and Adelaide.
He sang the original recording of the theme song for the Australian soap opera Neighbours.
Crocker also has had a semi-successful career as an actor, most notably starring alongside Barry Humphries in the title role of The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and its sequel, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own. The character of Barry McKenzie gave rise to Crocker recording ribald songs such as "My One Eyed Trouser Snake". Appointed Melbourne's King of Moomba in 1976.
He had a lead role in short-lived prison drama Punishment (1981). In 1994 he appeared as himself in the film Muriel's Wedding. He featured in the role of The Lecturer in the 2008 Australian premiere of the stage musical Reefer Madness.
Crocker also features prominently in the 2010 Australian feature film Ricky! the movie.
He has also guest starred on two episodes of the Australian satrical black comedy series Review with Myles Barlow.
In 2005, Crocker was featured on the Nine Network program This Is Your Life.
During the 1990s, the rhyming slang expression, "Barry Crocker" emerged in Australian English, to mean a "shocker", as in "very poor".
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Lady/You Are The Sun
Digby Richards grew up in Narooma, and moved to Sydney, and met A guy called Jon Hayton in a music store. Jon thought Dig was (a) Good looking (being a dead ringer for James Dean, as you can see) and (b) had a voice, so signed him up as a singer in the band, the Red Jeans (later the R'Jays, then later the Rajahs).
They took off and Dig and the R'Jays were the third act signed to Festival Records (after Johnny O'Keefe and Col Joye), hitting the charts with their single I wanna love you. Initially he sung a bit flat (Am I the first person to ever say that?), but got his act together and produced some fantastic, rip-roaring tunes, and really honed his vocal skills.
He become one of the most prolific artists of the era, touring nationally (hilariously documented in Behind the Rock, in our Reading section) and made many TV appearances (even having his own show) well in to the late sixties.
He went over to America and the UK in the seventies and re-invented himself, as 'Digby' Richards, complete with beard, and wrote some pretty good country-rock tunes (six albums), to moderate success.
Tragically, Dig died in Royal North Shore hospital on the 16th Feb 1983 of Pancreatic Cancer.
Saturday, 12 March 2011
Little People/You're The One/Send Her Away/Won't Someone Say/Don't Bother Calling/I'm Taking Him Back/Lu/Picture Me Gone/No Longer Part of Your Life/Mr 7654312/*Always Something There To Remind Me/*May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone/*You Don't Have To Say You Love Me/*Off And Running/*Send Her Away/ *I Walk Alone
Yvonne Barrett (1946 – 2 September 1985) was an Australian pop singer who made the Top 40 charts in Melbourne & Sydney and was nationally known for her TV appearances. She began her performing career early, commencing ballet lessons at the age of two and a half. This led to appearances in stage shows such as Sound of Music and Carnival. She took singing lessons in her mid-teens and was able to pass an audition for Australia's national pop music TV program. The Go! Show. She soon became a regular on this show doing songs like "Off & Running", "I Walk Alone" and The Toys "A Lovers Concerto". Signed to Go records, a record label spin-off from the show, Yvonne achieved her most chart success in 1965-66 with her version of the Tony Hatch song, "You're The One" b/w " Little People". In Dec 1965 she performed over Xmas in a tour for Australian troops in Vietnam.
1970 saw her voted a runner-up in the Go-Set magazine national Pop Poll. Although not achieving further chart success she retained considerable popularity through her live appearances, and on national TV shows, such as Uptight and Happening 70-72 doing songs such as, "Always Something There To Remind Me" and Rare Earth's, "Get Ready". In 1970 she released the single Lu (a Laura Nyro song) which featured her big voice with a brassy jazz-rock, Blood Sweat & Tears style arrangement. During the 1970s she moved into session work and club appearances. In the 1980's Yvonne Barrett moved from Perth to Sydney and began working as a waitress.
On September 3 1985, Yvonne Barrett was found murdered at her unit in the inner western Sydney suburb of Birchgrove
Friday, 11 March 2011
Little Boy Sad/Wendy Don't Go
Melbourne beat trio driven by a heavy rhythm section, formed in 1965. The 'M', the 'P' and the 'D' were for Mike Brady, Pete Watson and Danny Finley. Mike and Pete had met in Shadows-style band The Phantoms, and Danny had been drummer with another instrumental band The Saxons. Within three weeks of forming, MPD scored invaluable national exposure and wide acclaim when they joined Tony Worsley & The Fabulous Blue Jays on the 1965 Dave Clark Five package tour.In just two months, bolstered by regular appearances on TV pop showcases across the country, the boys had rocketed up to the same level as the top stars of the day, Normie Rowe and Bobby & Laurie, not to mention the invincible Easybeats. Like many bands of the time with a modicum of talent and ambition, and a will to prove themselves beyond the perceived career constrictions in Australia, MPD Ltd decided to tackle the UK in early 1966. Regrettably, like most of the other bands who made the trip, their British foray was a disaster from the outset. Like The Easybeats, The Twilights, Normie Rowe & The Playboys and The Bee Gees, MPD Ltd set sail for Britain (on the Achille Lauro) in August 1966 after a frantic send-off by 5,000 screaming fans at Perth's Fremantle docks. They were met and welcomed in London by their old mate, Snowy Fleet from the Easys but were immediately demoralised to find absolutely no work or even promotional activities lined up.
While in London, the group began recording backing tracks with Pye Records in-house producer John Schroeder, but these recordings languished uncompleted in the wake of MPD's hasty return home after just four months. The group was in turmoil at this stage and they undertook an ill-advised national homecoming tour, during which ferocious backstage arguments and even fisticuffs had become the order of the day, and by the time "Paper Doll" came out, the band had already eventually called it quits.
The band released 6 singles with Little Boy Sad going #5 Sydney #1 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #8 Adelaide #1 Perth it was a Double-sided hit in Melbourne with the B-side, Wendy Don't Go.
Jul. 1965"Little Boy Sad" / "Wendy Don't Go" (Go!! 5010)
"Lonely Boy" / "Wild Side Of Life" (Go!! 5014)
"(Remember) Walkin' In The Sand" / "If You Were Mine" (Go!! 5020)
"No Regrets" / I Won't Be Back" (Go!! 5027)
"Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder" / "I Am What I Am" (Go!! 5031)
"Paper Doll / You Might As Well Forget Him (Go!! 5049)6 singles
Little Boy Sad went to #5 Sydney #1 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #8 Adelaide #1 Perth it was a Double-sided hit in Melbourne with the B-side, Wendy Don't Go.
Mike Brady was later responsible for numerous well-known advertising jingles, and as one half of Two Man Band had a hit in 1979 with the Australian Rules football song Up There Cazaly.
Someday/Is It Raining
Guitarist, singer, songwriter and author Tony Barber is one of the unsing heroes of the Beat Boom in Australia. Rock historian Dean Mittelhauser considered him "one of our most underrated performers from the Sixties" and felt that Tony had "played a bigger part in the success of Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs that has been generally credited".
Tony was one of the many music-crazy young migrants who arrived in Australia in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and he had played in a minor band called The Electrons before leaving the UK. Within weeks of his arrival in Australia in 1964 he met a cocky young singer called Billy Thorpe in Kings Cross and he was immediately drafted in as the fifth member of Billy's backing band, The Aztecs. Tony was already developing into a competent pop writer and he composed both sides of the Aztec's first single "Blue Day" / You don't love me", released on the Linda Lee label in April 1964.
Two days before The Aztecs' next recording session, Tony received a 'care package' from his brother in the UK that contained the Rolling Stones' first EP. Afer hearing The Stones' version of Lieber & Stoller's "Poison Ivy", Tthe Aztecs decided to record the song on their next single. It's now a matter of history that their version (widely regarded as being superior to The Stones') shot to #1, became one of the biggest Australian pop hits of the year, kept The Beatles out of the top spot in the Sydney charts in the very midst of their tour, and made Billy and The Aztecs into national stars. Tony featured on the next three Aztecs singles, "Mashed Potato" "Sick and Tired" and "Over The rainbow" -- all of which were major hits -- but in late 1965 Tony and the rest of The Aztecs quit en masse, mainly because of ongoing financial wrangles with manager John Harrigan.
After leaving The Aztecs, Tony and fellow Aztec Vince Maloney formed the shortlived Vince & Tony's Two, with John Shields on bass and Jimmy Thompson on drums. In late 1965 Tony was signed as a solo artist to the newly formed Everybody's label, which had been established by Clyde Packer's Consolidated Press. Tony's solo debut single (produced by Nat Kipner) was a thumping beat original called "Someday", which it was one of the first (and only) four singles issued on Everybody's. None of these singles -- including Tony's -- was unsuccessful on first release because of resistance from radio DJs who (not unreasonably) regarded the label as blatant cross-promotion for Packer's Everybody's magazine and refused to name it on air.
The label was hastily rebadged as Spin Records and Tony's single was re-issued in February 1966. This time it took off, becoming a major hit that peaked at #7 in Sydney and #11 in Melbourne. Tony released four more singles on Spin -- "Wait By The Water" (Apr. 1966), "Wondrous Place" (July '66), "Lookin' for a better day" (Jan. 1967) and "Bird's Eye View", which was written for a long-forgotten TV documentary. Tony was also granted the rare privilege of recording an entire LP, entitled Someday ... Now!, on which he was backed by labelmates Steve & The Board and The Bee Gees.
Although he was signed to Spin as a recording artist, Tony also worked with another independent label during this period, the Melbourne-based Phono Vox. He produced several singles by Phon Vox artists, including Denise Drysdale and The Bentbeaks, and he also wrote the A-side of Denise's single "Sunshine Shadow". In late 1967, after his Spin contract had ended, Tony released one single under his own name on Phono Vox, but this proved to be his swansong as a recording artist. During 1967 Tony married his girlfriend Sue Peck, a staffer with Go-Set magazine, and soon after he left the pop scene to concentrate on business ventures and raising a family. In the 1980s he reunited with his old friend Billy Thorpe in the successful 'Sunshine Friends' soft toy enterprise.
In 2002, after more than thirty years away from the limelight, Tony reunited with Billy and the original Aztecs for the historic Long Way To The Top concert tours. His experiences inspired him to write a memoir of the tour and his early days as a pop musician, entitled Long Way Til You Drop. Regrettably, there was opposition to the book from some of those involved in the LWTTT tour, fuelled by pre-publication media hype that suggested it would be a tell-all exposé. In the event, Tony's book proved to be an entertaining, witty and affectionate account of an important chapter in Australian rock history.
She's A Mod /Cruel Sea
No New Zealand song captures the joy, dizziness and sheer optimism of the 1960s youth experience better than the Ray Columbus and the Invaders’ three-time hit 'She’s a mod'
'She's a mod' was recorded in Auckland a few weeks before the New Zealand tour by the Beatles in June 1964. It traded on the so-called British invasion of trendy fashions, groovy dances and swinging morality. Carnaby Street, the Pill and Mary Quant were about to become household names.
Beatlemania was on the rise, but American artists and dance crazes still dominated at the start of 1964. Columbus and his band the Invaders had always preferred the hard-edged British image that made them the toast of their home town of Christchurch. After moving to Auckland at the end of 1962 the band attracted a following at nightspots, such as the Shiralee, for their danceable rhythm and blues, matching pink guitars and mod image of shaggy hair, black drainpipe trousers and winkle-picker shoes.
The world was by now flooding into New Zealand lounges via the flickering black and white TV broadcasts, which began in 1960. Even though a 23-inch set cost the equivalent of 10 weeks’ average salary, the new medium caught on so quickly that by 1964 the stuffy state radio’s night-time audiences were crumbling. Youth became the ultimate beneficiary.
After years of bans on noisy songs like Chubby Checker’s version of 'The twist' and a single half-hour national hit parade per week, teenagers finally got a look-in. The breakthrough was the Sunset show on Wellington station 2ZB, which played 90 minutes of pop every evening. It was presented by DJ Peter Sinclair, who also fronted a new Wellington-based TV pop show Let’s go!
Ray Columbus and the Invaders went to Australia in 1963. Sydney teenagers mostly identified as either bleached-out surfies or leather-and-chains-clad rockers. At the 2000-capacity venue Surf City, the Bondi youth all hopped around, doing what the New Zealanders thought was a moronic dance called the Surf Stomp.
So Columbus, a former champion tap dancer whose life changed when he heard Elvis, decided to teach them his own Mod’s Nod, where the dancer’s feet mostly stayed in place, but the torso swayed and the head never stopped shaking. At a time when dancing to bands was everything, the band already swayed in unison to the Mashed Potato and the Hitchhike. Columbus and his Invaders were old hands at these post-Twist dances. They had learned them at the Christchurch clubs, where the band got its start, in the early 1960s from off-duty black American servicemen from Operation Deepfreeze.
In May 1964, shortly after arriving back in New Zealand, Columbus and his band recorded 'She’s a mod' for Zodiac Records in Eldred Stebbings's rumpus room in Herne Bay, Auckland. Obscure British songwriter Terry Beale had penned the number, and it was offered to the band in Sydney by a record plugger called Jack Argent, the song publisher of the Beatles in Australia.
Initially, none of the Invaders liked 'She’s a mod', although Columbus thought it had potential. The version that finally appeared was rockier than the original British acetate, and it added a harder guitar sound and the exuberant 'Yeah, yeah, yeah' hook that defined the times.
Nearly 40 years later the song sounds surprisingly fresh, given the primitiveness of Stebbings's studio equipment, which meant Columbus couldn't even hear his own vocals during the recording. The song was released here in June 1964 as the Beatles swung pois and charmed the nation. Faced with that sort of competition, 'She’s a mod' faded from view.
To everybody’s surprise, the song became an overnight smash in Sydney during October 1964. It topped the charts and reportedly sold 20,000 copies in less than three weeks. The band raced over there to capitalise on the success, with the newly married Columbus quitting his honeymoon after three days to join the other band members. The band soon repeated its success in New Zealand, and it became an overnight Australasian teen sensation and was mobbed wherever it went.
The band had other hits, notably the brooding Loxene Golden Disc Award winner 'Till we kissed'. None ever reflected the times like 'She’s a mod'. After the band broke up in 1965, Columbus rerecorded the song with a brass band backing for his solo album. He tried yet another treatment while living in California and recording with his band Art Collection.
The song’s durability became apparent during the 1980s as the classic hits format swept through radio. Early in the decade, the original 'She’s a mod' went Top 20 again. In 1990 a rap version by Columbus with Double J and Twice the T topped the Auckland charts and went to number two nationally.
Because 'She’s a mod' is pitched in quite a high key, Columbus admitted in a 1993 interview that it posed a challenge for an older voice. He was still enthusiastic about the first New Zealand record to top the Australian charts: 'I can’t just throw it away, but I don’t want to ... I enjoy singing it and the crowds love it. That song has been good to me.'
Adapted from an article by Redmer Yska in North and South, 1993.
She' A Mod charted well in Australia #1 Sydney #1 Melbourne #2 Brisbane #2 Adelaide #2 Perth the B-side is an instrumental by the Invaders.